Home > News > News in Brief: 6 January 2009

News in Brief: 6 January 2009

A brief list of news clips for the day:

Bush plan beat obstacle to Gaza assault. The fact that Hamas won elections for the Palestinian parliament was a serious political obstacle to a conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza. But the George W Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that barrier by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. (Asia Times)

Amira Hass / ‘Gaza strike is not against Hamas, it’s against all Palestinians’. “Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members,” said S., who opposes Hamas. “And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It’s against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way.” (Haaretz)

Robert Fisk: Bring in the peacekeepers? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do I hear the braying of the UN donkey in Gaza? On his Middle East tour, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, may well be mentioning that well-known Eeyore figure on the East River, always so willing to send its peacekeepers on Mission Impossible. The Palestinians have been trying to internationalise their conflict with the Israelis ever since Yasser Arafat pleaded for UN forces to protect the Palestinians after the failure of the Oslo agreement. Always the Israelis have refused. (The Independent)

Egypt government feels its people’s ire. Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest the continuing Israeli aggression against Gaza and the participation of the Egyptian regime in the isolation of its population. Last Wednesday, the state responded with a major crackdown in which tens of protestors and journalists were assaulted and arrested. (Electronic Intifada)

Tomgram: Body Count Nation. If you need an epitaph for the Bush administration, here’s one to test out: They tried. They really tried. But they couldn’t help it. They just had to count. In a sense, George W. Bush did the Assyrians proud. With his secret prisons, his outsourced torture chambers, his officially approved kidnappings, the murders committed by his interrogators, the massacres committed by his troops and mercenaries, and the shock-and-awe slaughter he ordered from the air, it’s easy enough to imagine what those Assyrian scribes would have counted, had they somehow been teleported into his world. Many of those body counts were duly made public. This record of American “success” was visible to anyone who visited the Pentagon’s website and viewed its upbeat news articles complete with enumerations of “Taliban fighters” or, in Iraq, “terrorists,” the Air Force’s news feed listing the number of bombs dropped on “anti-Afghan forces,” or the U.S. Central Command’s stories of killing “Taliban militants.” (TomDispatch)

Nelson Report Says Ross Will Get Iran File. Very concerning news from the very excellent Nelson Report tonight — that Dennis Ross will become Special Envoy for Iran, reporting directly to SecState-designate Clinton, rather than to the White House. Chris Nelson has great sources everywhere, and, while he is much more an Asia hand than a Mideast expert, I have to take his reports quite seriously. Of course, Ross, who has virtually no independent expertise or experience that I know of regarding Iran, signed on to that September Bipartisan Policy Center report drafted by hard-line neo-cons Michael Rubin and Michael Makovsky, as I reported here in October. Such an appointment should give pause to anyone worried about the lingering possibility of war with Tehran. (Jim Lobe)

Southeast Europe’s gas supply cut. Russian gas supplies delivered via Ukraine but destined for Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia have been cut off after Moscow accused Kiev of illegally siphoning off fuel. (Al Jazeera)

India Signs $2.1B Aircraft Deal With Boeing. The agreement to buy eight P-81 long-range reconnaissance aircraft marks India’s biggest military aircraft deal with the United States, defence ministry officials said. The contract was signed on January 1 in New Delhi. (Defense News/AFP)

Pakistan ‘knew of Mumbai plot’. A senior Indian government official has suggested that leading figures in the Pakistani establishment must have known of the plot to carry out last November’s deadly attacks in Mumbai, and hinted that some may have actively supported it. Shivshankar Menon, India’s foreign secretary said he found it “hard to believe that something of this scale … could occur without anybody, anywhere in the establishment knowing that this was happening.” (Al Jazeera)

Caucasus: The EU Seeks Broader Ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in 2009. Brussels wants to enhance the European Union’s relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the coming year. In the absence of solid membership prospects, the question remains, however, whether the EU’s ideas about enhanced relations will meet the expectations of leaders of the three Caucasus states, as well as create a framework that can improve Brussels’ capabilities to address regional issues. (EurasiaNet)

Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Reveals that Gas Won’t Start Flowing to China in 2009. Turkmenistan has postponed start date for exporting natural gas to China. At the same time, Ashgabat reported that work on a 7,000-kilometer transnational pipeline was proceeding at “full speed.” The pipeline is expected to cost in excess of $7.3 billion when completed. (EuariaNet)

Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Turns Off the Switch to Tajikistan. Turkmenistan has suspended electricity exports to Tajikistan because Dushanbe has failed to sign a transit agreement with Uzbekistan that would see Tashkent levy a 10 percent transit fee on its impoverished neighbor. (EurasiaNet)

Seoul’s Defense Exports Exceed $1 Billion. South Korea sold more than $1 billion worth of weapons and defense goods overseas in 2008, the largest amount since it began exporting defense articles in 1975, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). (Defense News)

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